Hola. I’m sitting in the Walmart parking lot smoking a Swisher Sweet woodtip. Today was the kids’ last day of school. I remember how much fun the summer months were for me when I was their age. Walking to the convenience store to play pinball and buy a glass bottle of Dr. Pepper… Going swimming in the apartment complex’s pool darn near every day… Playing baseball out on the commons using anything we could find for bases… Dumpster diving for Playboys that we could hide in our clubhouse in an unused storage locker next to the building laundry room… Yeah, those were the days. I don’t think my childhood could have been any more idyllic. Not a tragedy in sight. I stayed innocent for a long time. I just hope like heck that I can have that for my kids. I’m not sure even what kind of job I’ve done in that regard so far. I just had an odd idea. It is amazingly self indulgent even by my low standards. I’m thinking that I ought to write down all my stories before I forget them. If I do a passable job getting them down then maybe I could even turn it into a book. The truth is though that that is unlikely to happen. I can’t even find time to keep my little blog up to date. Well, the girls are done shopping so we’re off to Chili’s for a late dinner. (Via hiptop). Hasta manana.
Good evening. It’s been a long, boring week of work, and I’m glad it’s over. Unfortunately, I’m on call so I’ll probably end up getting paged at least once this weekend. I guess that’s the price I pay for getting to work from home. Well, it’s been over two months since my last blog entry and the soccer season is in full swing and baseball season starts next week and softball the week after that. I’ll be chauffering kids to practices and games 4 days a week for the next two months, but I love it. It’s the only social life I have. Geez, that’s pathetic. Does every middle-aged parent become virtually friendless over the years, or is it just me? Today is Michelle’s payday, so she’s taking the family out to dinner tonight. She picked Sunday night when we went out to Kobe Steakhouse for the teppanyaki grill and sushi, so I get to pick this time. The crappy thing is that I’m jonesing for a taco burger from Taco Via, but I feel like I need to pick some nice sit-down, order-a-cocktail kind of joint. The Taco Via is out in Lee’s Summit on M-291 highway. It’s just a franchise Mexican place, but the food is terrific. I feel a little uncomfortable with the decor, but the employees are friendly enough to make up for it. The place is just covered in fundamentalist Christian artwork and posters. They kept up the nativity scene 3 months after Christmas, and only took it down so that they could replace it with the three crosses and purple robe for Easter. I’m definitely not telling these folks about my religious beliefs. I’d have to put up with “that look” every time I went in there from now on. You freethinkers will know what “look” I’m talking about if you’ve ever come out of the closet to a fundamentalist acquantaince. I was the same way when I was in my teens. I wasn’t a Christian, but I did believe in a personal god, and when I met someone who said they were an atheist, I just couldn’t grasp what they were trying to tell me. “Seriously, how can you not believe in God? Are you just yanking my chain?” At the time, the concept seemed so self-apparent that I was just baffled. Now that I’m on the other end of this kind of transaction, I can see the look forming in their eyes, and it is a dreadful thing to see. A very religious friend of mine thought he would try to offer some comfort to me when Jacob was in the hospital getting his appendix out. He tried to have the “come to Jesus” talk with me and asked me if I believed in God. I told him that it depends on what you mean by God, and if you mean an old, white-haired man that lives above the clouds, then, no, I don’t believe in God. My wife and I haven’t been invited over to their house since, and 3 years later, conversations tend to be short and superficial when we run into each other in public, and I still get the “look” from him and his wife. Oh, well, what are you going to do? Pretend to believe something that you don’t? Not me, fella.
Sitting on the couch being a bum again. Watching MXC’s Most Extreme Challenge on SpikeTV. This show is hilarious. They take a Japanese game show and redub it with English dialogue that is full of scatalogical references and double entendre. Maybe you have to have a juvenile sensibility to enjoy this kind of thing, but Jacob and his friends don’t even understand most of the jokes. Even without the English dubs, I have serious concerns about the sanity of the Japanese people.
Hey, look, two nights in a row. I’m sitting in the living room watching Real Time with Bill Maher. I may not agree with every thing he says but at least he says rude things about the right-wing fundy schmucks. I watched 60 Minutes Sunday night and I have really tended to respect their journalistic integrity in the past, but their piece on the evangelicals’ views on Revelations and Armageddon just really burned my britches. Their idea of balance is to talk to the liberal Baptist from the Harvard Theological Seminary. They acted like the Bible deserved respect as prophecy and it was just a difference of interpretation. Where were the skeptics who could tell you about the endtimes stories in every myth-system, and could tell you about how prophesies are formulated and interpreted, and who could talk about how and why Revelations was written, and about the dangers of provoking war in the Middle East in order to bring about the Rapture? I’m no expert but I could’ve done a better job refuting these fundy nutbags than anyone they bothered to interview. As extreme as they seemed in the report, they are even more extreme than that and good old Morley wasn’t nearly as attack dog as he could have been. Well, enough of that. Talk to y’all tomorrow.
Hola. I just promised myself that I would make an entry in my blog everyday of at least one sentence. So here is today’s entry. This will no longer be my online journal. I was too self-censoring to make it worthwhile, and I was too absorbed with the concern that I write for a full 15 minutes. Too hell with that. This will be short dispatches from your loyal correspondent, and not some ind depth tripe dredged up from my perverted mind. It’s cold and snowy here in the heartland as I stand outside the local elementary school where Jill has basketball practice. I can certainly see why climatologists have such a difficult time selling the theory of global warming. My poor dog has had to be inside for a couple of weeks now because the weather has been so unusually cold that his water dish freezes within a couple of hours. Science may have the epistemological virtue of empiricism, but when science is counter-intuitive it has a hard row to hoe.
I’m sitting on the couch watching South Park and using my Sidekick. Lets see what a pain-in-the-ass using this keyboard will be. I don’t think that I will be doing my usual 50 wpm on this thing, but its a heck of a lot simpler than trying to send an SMS message from a cellphone. That is the definition of frustration and a low return on investment activity. Tonight South Park is about smoking. Leave it these guys to make a pro-smoking piece of agitprop. It makes me want to run out to the Quiktrip and snag a five-pack of Swisher Sweet wood tip cigarillos. I get a great feeling of peace and relaxation from getting to sit quietly in my garage workshop for the 10-15 minutes it takes to smoke one. Sure, I know they are bad for me, that’s why I only have one every few months, but watching drifting smoke is a Zen experience all by itself. Well, enough for tonight. Catch ya on the flipside.
Hello. I’m sitting my home office enjoying my day off from work. I obviously have been neglecting my blogging. My mom even commented that I hadn’t put anything on here in quite some time. It is bad to be so lazy. Actually, I don’t think it’s about being lazy, but it’s about misprioritzation. I have just had too many other things to do that caused me to push blogging back. Anyway, so what to write about today? I just got a new PDA/phone on Monday that is just about the coolest thing I’ve ever owned. It is Sidekick hip-top computer made by Danger, Inc. I can surf the web from my phone, send e-mails, use AOL Instant Messenger, keep my calendar, address book, and to-do list on line and be able to access them anytime, anywhere. The only problem so far is keeping my hands on it. My kids and their friends are constantly trying to borrow it from me so that can IM their friends. It has a small QWERTY keyboard that you have to use your thumbs to type on. For a big fella like me, that has resulted in a lot of fat fingering of the keys. I’ll have to stop cutting my thumbnails so short I guess. There was something else I wanted to write about today. I am a little concerned about the Massachusetts Supreme Court ruling that legalized gay marriage. I am all in favor of equal rights for homosexuals, but screwing with the definition of marriage seems to be a step in the wrong direction. What I would favor is that the government get out of the marriage business altogether. I would favor a change so that people who didn’t have kids together could join together in civil unions, but that only couples who have living descendants could be considered married. These are all concepts that I am working out in my head so they aren’t entirely coherent yet. Anyway, what I would like to see is the concept of marriage become something akin to a child’s first communion or a bar mitzvah. It would be a socio-religious ceremony without legal effect. The government’s role in family relationships would be to ensure the welfare of children, determine inheritance rights, govern decision-making during incapacity, and things of that nature. Marriage is, in essence, a contractual relationship in which two people decide to form a family together. If they don’t end up having children, then they aren’t a family. They are just a couple. This avoids the issue of adoption so far, but I only intend to write 15 minutes a day, and my time is up. Maybe if I’m still interested in the topic tomorrow, I’ll talk about it then.
Happy Halloween. We’re getting ready to go over to my sister Leisha’s house in about an hour. It is becoming a tradition. This will be the third or fourth year we’ve gone over there. Mom, Dad, and my other sister Vanessa go over as well. The kids show off their costumes and we have some pizza. Last year, my kids Jacob and Jillian, and Jacob’s friend Cameron went trick or treating around the neighborhood. Leisha lives in a upscale neighborhood so, in addition to the candy being better, there are fewer safety issues. This year, Jill is going as a witch, and Jacob is going as a Chief’s fan. We’re bring along Cameron again and also another one of Jacob’s friends, Breanna. Jill is 9 years old, and Jacob and his gang are 11 years old. We’ve only got a good couple of years of costumes and trick-or-treating left before they get “too mature” for this so I plan to take lots of pictures. (Which I will post on my other website http://www.geocities.com/tdouthat). Our neighborhood has gained a recent influx of smaller children, so I will get to hand out some candy in the next few minutes since it is already starting to get dark. We’ll be leaving just in time to miss the obnoxious older kids who don’t even bother with costumes anymore. I’ve been seeing a lot more of that in the last few years. Older kids in their early teens who rove around in packs of 4 or 5 with maybe 2 masks among them just going door-to-door for candy without even bothering with the formalities of the season. I heard on the radio today that Halloween was becoming a big holiday in Europe now. I had been under the impression that Halloween was an old Catholic holiday (All Hallow Saint’s Eve) that had been perverted over the centuries into the celebration of the macabre that we have now. I wasn’t aware that trick-or-treating and costumes was a uniquely American tradition that we’ve taken to exporting. Mexico has the Day of the Dead, that I have to admit I learned about from the Disney Channel’s Lizzie Maguire, so I assumed that all European-descended cultures had some version of Halloween. Too bad I missed the whole story and just heard the preview for it. Although, I did also see an article about the French trying to de-Americanize the holiday that had been commercialized about 5 years ago. I hear the first kids at the door, so time to go.
Well, it’s confirmed. I have no self-discipline whatsoever. My plan was to add to this blog on a daily basis, and here it is 5 days later. Oops. Anyway, I’m back. I am facing the usual problem of having too much to write about and not knowing where to start. I guess that is the point of the exercise. Just write whatever comes to mind and don’t stop until 15 minutes are up. OK, just before this I was reading a New York Times column by Paul Krugman. (One of my favorite internet pasttimes is to check out the “most e-mailed” news stories from Yahoo news and the New York Times. It is the source of many interesting anecdotes and factual tidbits.) In any event, today’s Krugman column is currently at the top of the NY Times list. He is talking about “willful ignorance” as it relates to the “war on terrorism”. I think that calling it a “war on terrorism” is just about as stupid as declaring a “war on drugs”. We’ve got enough real wars in the world without trying to turn law enforcement efforts into battles. In my opinion, the “war on terrorism” is being handled in the worst possible way. The effort was supposed to be to obtain justice for the victims of the 9/11 attacks and to prevent future terrorist attacks. Those are law enforcement functions not military functions. The “evildoers” are not soldiers; they are political radicals committing crimes. I have yet to see a battle between Al Qaeda operatives and some other army. They sneak in, kill people, and run away. They don’t attempt to obtain a victory or maintain a conquest. By turning the search for justice into a war, you are forcing the world’s muslims to choose up sides. They can choose to side with other muslims with whom they share a number of political views about Israel and Saudi Arabia as well as a religion, or they can choose to side with the United States whose main interest in muslim countries seems to be to exploit them for their natural resources and who have tended to prop up dictatorships. Then trying to drag Saddam Hussein into the “war on terrorism” when he doesn’t have anything to do with it other than being an Arab, you only make it worse. I have a lot more to say on the subject, but my 15 minutes is up.
My dad’s cousin Gary Marietta passed away this morning. He was 54 years old and the victim of a heart attack. His mother, my 92-year-old great aunt Charlotte, took him to the hospital around midnight last night and around 3 a.m. he died. Gary was a unique and important part of the extended Douthat clan. Gary was the only child of Jimmy and Charlotte Marietta. He was born in 1949 with mild brain damage that prevented him from being able to enter the working world, but that did not keep him from being a highly intelligent and engaging conversationalist. He could talk your ears off about his favorite restaurants, grocery stores, and actors. At family gatherings, it was always fun to watch him corner the latest addition to the family and see how long the newbie could hold up their end of the conversation. He could remember the name of every restaurant he’d ever been to as well as the dates he went there. Despite never holding a job, Gary wasn’t without his avocations. He liked to cut and style people’s hair. He was never very well groomed himself, but seemed to have a number of acquaintances for whom he would do their hair. Gary also liked to play the piano and organ at various churches around town. When I was about 10, Gary taught me how to write to movie stars to get signed photographs. One wall of his room at the time was lined with stacks of manila envelopes from agents and studios with signed photos of the famous actors of the time. If an actor had a speaking role in a movie that he’d seen, Gary would send off for an autograph. I didn’t have quite the passion for it that Gary did and I stopped after getting a Farrah Fawcett and a Bill Bixby (this was the era of Charlie’s Angels and the Incredible Hulk). Aunt Charlotte has worried for years who would take care of Gary after she was gone, but now I worry for Aunt Charlotte now that Gary is gone. The next Douthat reunion will be somewhat somber without Gary, and the Marietta home will likewise be somber for a while as well.